In The News


Forensic science is a critical element of the criminal justice system. Forensic scientists examine and analyze evidence from crime scenes and elsewhere to develop objective findings that can absolve an innocent person from suspicion or assist in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crime.

2016-06-03 | FBI Wants ID Database Exempt from Privacy Act
The bureau’s proposal would exempt the NGI from the 1974 Privacy Act—a bill that allows citizens to sue the government over privacy abuses, such as refusing to tell a person if he or she is in the database, or refusing to allow someone to check their personal information for accuracy.

2016-06-01 | The False Promise of DNA Testing
The subject of the segment was the Houston Police Department Crime Laboratory, among the largest public forensic centers in Texas. By one estimate, the lab handled DNA evidence from at least 500 cases a year—mostly rapes and murders, but occasionally burglaries and armed robberies. Acting on a tip from a whistle-blower, KHOU 11 had obtained dozens of DNA profiles processed by the lab and sent them to independent experts for analysis. The results, William Thompson, an attorney and a criminology professor at the University of California at Irvine, told a KHOU 11 reporter, were terrifying: It appeared that Houston police technicians were routinely misinterpreting even the most basic samples.

2016-05-27 | Wrongly Convicted on Bite-Marks, Man Exonerated after 19 Years
The reversal comes almost a decade after the forensic odontologist recanted his original testimony, saying he wasn’t even sure if the lesion on the victim’s hand was a human bite mark.

2016-05-25 | Egyptian blue delivers fingerprint boost to modern forensic science
Their work showed Egyptian blue, the earliest known synthetic pigment, can double as a luminescent dusting powder that reveals print marks on patterned coatings, such as polymer currency notes, and highly reflective materials.

2016-05-23 | Big-picture solution needed in drug lab scandals
THE COMMONWEALTH’S DRUG lab scandal widened in scope this month with revelations about the misdeeds of Sonja Farak, a state chemist who regularly got high on the job by dipping into drug samples and stores of evidence. For nearly eight years, according to an investigation by the attorney general’s office, Farak smoked crack cocaine in the Amherst lab, usually cooked up from evidence submitted by police, and availed herself of daily hits of methamphetamine.

2016-05-19 | Defense questions Manchester police competency in Cooper trial
Hess, Seletzky and Harry all testified that the lab that runs the fingerprinting is run by the Maryland State Police, with Harry explaining that it can be an average wait of 18 months before the lab can process the prints. Despite the repeated answer that fingerprinting can take more than a year, Eldridge appeared frustrated that the police were content with waiting.

2016-05-17 | The False Promise of DNA Testing
Christy Kim was fired from the Houston crime lab, but reinstated after her lawyer argued that her errors—which ranged from how she had separated out the complex mixture to how she had reported the odds of a random match—were a product of systemic failures that included inadequate supervision. (Kim could not be reached for comment.) Sutton’s case became one of the central pillars of a public inquiry into practices at the lab. “The system failed at multiple points,” the head of the inquiry, Michael Bromwich, concluded.

The I-Team discovered the problem is pervasive. According to HPD records, there were 4,451 crimes with recovered fingerprint evidence between August 2014 and April 2016. In more than half of those, 56 percent, HPD failed to request lab analysis. And it's not just burglary cases, but aggravated robberies, assaults and even murder.

2016-05-13 | Convicted Drug Analyst Worked on 1 in 6 Cases in Mass., ACLU Says
Annie Dookhan, who was released from prison in March, was involved in analyzing samples in 24,000 successful prosecutions, according to documents produced from an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit.

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